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What Is Britain - Book Report/Review Example

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This paper "What Is Britain?" focuses on the American historian J. Pocock who gave a lecture in 1975 as part of a series which took place in New Zealand and this was published as an article in The Journal of Modern History. In response to the lecture, three other historians submitted comments.  …
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What Is Britain
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Download file to see previous pages The two texts are therefore related to each other, the first one being a fully argued presentation by one scholar, and the second one being a set of shorter comments on particular points raised in that presentation, by three different scholars. It is important to note at the outset that all of the participants in this ongoing debate are from different parts of the world, and each one writes from a different perspective. They refer to each other, and there appears to be a certain rivalry between them. J. Pocock was based in the United States, A. J. P. Taylor was an elderly and very famous English historian, with a long track record and writing from Oxford and London, G. Donaldson was a Scottish historian from Shetland and writing from Edinburgh, while Michael Hechter confesses that he is an “outsider” which no doubt refers to his location in Washington, and perhaps also origins in mainland Europe, with no direct personal connection to Britain.
There are a preamble and a final mention of the New Zealand location for the lecture, which sets the scene and rounds it off, but in general, the topic has little direct relevance to New Zealand. Pocock’s mention of “mapping the historical consciousness” is linked with the man in whose honour the lecture series takes place (Pocock, 1975, p. 621) but this is little more than a rhetorical nod to his audience, making sure that his piece has a connection with Beaglehole. The mapping analogy is more about style than substance since the main topic is Britain and British history.
Pocock starts off his lecture with a provocative mention of A.J. P. Taylor’s very famous book English History 1914-1945 (1965) and immediately takes issue with that scholar’s determination to call the Scots by the term “Scotch.” This sets the lecture up as one of opposition to a dominant and English-centred view and leads into the main argument that “there is a need for us to revive the term ‘British history’ and reinvest it with meaning.” (Pocock,  1975, p. 603)   ...Download file to see next pages Read More
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